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Guide To Underfloor Heating

Underfloor heating comes highly recommended and you would be hard pushed to find an episode of a programme like Grand Designs without it being featured.

The question though, is not whether underfloor heating is any good, because of course, the answer to that is a simple yes, the question is whether it is right for your home, and if so what type should you go for?



How does it actually work?

As the name suggests, underfloor heating provides the warmth to a room from under the floor.

The heat from under the floor rises up into the room, directly and efficiently warming it up, unlike with radiator heat, which rises up to heat the ceiling space of a room before it heats the lower spaces, where us people like to hang out.

All of these under floor heating systems work in essentially the same way, with a heating element warming up a heat spreading device which has been neatly laid under the floor to achieve even warmth across it.

The heating element can be warmed in one of two ways, either by electricity or water, hence the two main types of underfloor eating system, which are known as wet and electric.

Where should you put it?

Yes, under the floor, obviously. But which rooms are most suited to this type of heating system?

Under floor heating was originally hailed as the Jesus Christ of cold feet, if you will. It was dubbed as our humble saviour from those unpleasantly chilly bathroom, kitchen and conservatory type floors.

However, as technology progresses, particularly where the electric systems are concerned, the uses and applications of underfloor heating are becoming more varied and adventurous.

It is now a feasible possibility to put under floor heating into virtually any room, with any type of flooring. Hardwood, laminate, lino, stone, even carpet, you name it; it is more than likely that there will be a system to suit it.

The pros of underfloor heating

• It completely transforms the feel of those beautifully presented, yet often clinical and cold, kitchen-diner type rooms, into warm underfoot, inviting spaces.
• It is a great space saver! Clunky radiators are no longer necessary, so you can fit that piece of furniture in that you have always wanted.
• Your property’s hot water arrangement can often easily integrate a wet underfloor heating system and can be mixed and matched with radiators so that you not have to convert the whole house and heat every room from under the floor.
• For the eco-conscious, and for those that should be, wet systems are proven to be 30 per cent more energy efficient than a traditional radiator system.

The cons of underfloor heating

• Whilst wet systems are not too expensive, electric systems can be 30 to 40 per cent more expensive to run than wet systems.
• You get what you pay for. The cheaper systems are likely to be unsuitable for certain types of flooring, wooden flooring in particular, and some systems can even lead to the warping of furniture.
• The installation of a wet flooring system can be quite an undertaking in an existing property because the floors will all need to be taken up. Quite disruptive then, and expensive too.
• This is not specific to underfloor heating as it affects all heating systems similarly, but there is no point in installing underfloor heating if you have poor insulation, as the heat generated will still escape. Take a look at the building regulations at www.communities.gov.uk for more information on how to combat heat loss.

Wet or electric then, which is the right system for you?

Wet Systems circulate water of a relatively low temperature, typically 50˚C, through a continuous series of radiating pipe loops under the floor.

Ideal for: New-build properties or complete renovations, as well as extensions and large areas where even heating can be difficult to achieve from traditional wall radiators.

Cost: Like many things, this system is more cost-effective the more you are buying. If you are looking to heat a small area you should expect to pay around £30 per sq m. However, you can pay as little as £12 to £16 per sq m if you are looking to heat your average four bedroom house.

If your home is to be heated predominately by underfloor heating then the wet system is the most economical system to go for.

Electric Systems can be bought in the form of cable systems (which are available as a basic or woven mat), flat cables, or heating films, made from carbon or aluminium.

Ideal for: Smaller areas that require underfloor heating, such as a particular room, and refurbishment projects that would be better off avoiding too much upheaval, like the necessity to dig up your floor.

Cost: This system will cost you around £20 to £25 per sq m.

Available ranges and self installation

Although you must always get a qualified electrician to do the wiring, you can save yourself some money by laying a lot of the systems yourself.

Try these websites for self installation information as well as general information on the ranges of flooring systems available:


For a list of manufacturers and further information on all of the different types of underfloor heating, got towww.uhma.org.uk, (the Underfloor Heating Manufacturer’s Association website) and www.continental-ufh.com.

If you want a tradesman to instal underfloor heating, you can get a range of quotes from Rated People.

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